At Punta Della Dogana, a cellist
seated under the arcade, is playing
melodies from operatic arias.
It is early evening. A fog horn sounds.
A cruise ship is sailing for Dubrovnik.
With a tug at the bows to pull, one to steer
at the stern, The Queen Elizabeth –
its superstructure higher than St Mark’s
Campanile, moves slowly toward us
through the Giudecca canal. Passengers,
silhouettes on the top deck, look down
on the packed, diverse crowds jostling along
the Riva Degli Schiavoni,
the embankment near the Doge’s palace,
where the traders from Dalmatia docked.
I think of the theatre – true to its name
refurbished from its rococo ashes –
the five tiers of boxes, the gold leaf,
the papier maché, the trompe d’oeil
in a city of commerce and sea water.
The ship is tugged past us. The cellist plays ‘La
donna è mobile’.
Note: The poem was first published on Facebook in 2016.